Ex-Bridging Finance CEO seeks to upend OSC investigation

By James Langton | July 9, 2021 | Last updated on July 9, 2021
2 min read

David Sharpe, the former CEO of troubled fund manager Bridging Finance Inc. (BFI), says enforcement staff of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) violated securities law and undermined their own investigation by publicly disclosing contents of their interviews with Sharpe in court filings.

Sharpe has filed an application that seeks to quash the OSC’s investigation order, throw out certain evidence that was obtained in his compelled interviews with enforcement staff and remove or seal documents that were posted online detailing his testimony.

The OSC announced it will hold a hearing on July 22 to consider the application.

“Staff intend to oppose the application,” said an OSC spokesperson. “We will not be commenting further at this time.”

Sharpe was interviewed twice by the OSC, once in October 2020 and again on April 29 of this year. Some of the evidence obtained in those interviews is contained in documents that were filed in court on April 30 in connection with the OSC’s motion to have a receiver appointed to oversee BFI amid the regulator’s ongoing investigation.

In his application, Sharpe argued that he had “expectations of privacy, confidentiality and use protections with respect to his compelled evidence.”

Sharpe is now seeking orders barring the disclosed evidence from being used in future proceedings (along with any evidence obtained as a result of the disclosure), in addition to quashing the OSC’s investigation order and sealing the disclosed testimony.

“Staff did not put Sharpe on notice that his compelled evidence would be disclosed in court proceedings and posted on the receiver’s website or give him any opportunity to oppose the proposed disclosure,” the application said.

The application also argued that the disclosure has “fatally undermined the integrity of staff’s investigation,” along with harming Sharpe’s reputation and potentially the interests of BFI investors. The application further alleged that the disclosure has “undermined public confidence in the integrity of the OSC’s investigative process.”

Along with orders to exclude evidence obtained in Sharpe’s interviews and remove it from the public record, Sharpe is seeking a declaration that OSC enforcement staff violated securities law by disclosing his compelled testimony and that the breach represents an abuse of process.

The OSC has not filed any enforcement allegations in the BFI case.

On April 30, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. (PwC) BFI’s receiver.

Since then, PwC has been unable to provide reliable net asset values for the firm’s funds, due to a lack of clarity about certain unusual transactions. As a result, BFI investors remain unsure of the status of their holdings.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for Advisor.ca and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.